MLB

Should Carlos Beltran Receive Lifetime Ban for Role in Astros’ Cheating Scandal?

When Carlos Beltran stepped down from the New York Mets before he ever managed a game for his role in the Astros’ cheating scandal, the self-imposed discipline was an admission of his guilt. The question is was it enough? When you explore the extent of Beltran’s involvement in the scandal and compare it to previous MLB scandals, there’s an argument to be made the nine-time All-Star deserves a more severe punishment like a lifetime ban.

Carlos Beltran and the Astros 2017 season

During the 2017 season in Houston, the Astros expected Carlos Beltran, in his 20th season of MLB, to have an important role with the club. Any player with that type of experience is a valued commodity in the clubhouse.

As a leader, the younger players knew he was someone they could go to for advice and tips in the game. It was that same hierarchy that allowed Beltran to concoct the sign-stealing plan and receive very little push-back from any of his teammates, including other veterans.

Catcher Brian McCann, who was also a Yankees teammate with Beltran from 2014-16 before both joined the Astros in 2017, attempted to address the issue with Beltran. Beltran ignored it. One unnamed Astros player said Beltran disregarded McCann and “steamrolled everybody.”

The Astros cheating scandal fallout

The consequences of the scandal were severe but limited in scope.

  • Astros received $5 million fine, the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution.
  • Astros forfeit first- and second-round picks in 2020 and 2021 drafts.
  • GM Jeff Luhnow suspended one year. He was later fired.
  • Manager A.J. Hinch suspended one year. He was later fired as well.
  • No players were punished.

In addition to Hinch and Beltran, Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was the bench coach for the Astros during the 2017 season, parted ways with the Red Sox for his role in the scandal.

Punishment for other MLB scandals

Eight members of the Chicago White Sox were accused of intentionally losing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for money from a gambling syndicate. The event was better known as the Black Sox Scandal. MLB permanently banned all eight men from baseball. 

Pete Rose was accused of gambling on baseball as a player and a manager. MLB permanently banned Rose from baseball. Rose eventually admitted in 2004 that he did bet but did so on his own team. He has asked for reinstatement multiple times and has been denied each time. 

When you compare the Black Sox and Rose scandals, there is one distinct difference—the Chicago players deliberately played poorly to affect the outcome of the game while Rose bet on his teams to win. Your chances of success when deliberately trying to lose a contest are much greater because the outcome is in your control. In Rose’s case, he was betting on his team to win so he had no control over how well the other team performed. 

Does Carlos Beltran deserve a lifetime ban?

When comparing the Astros scandal with the Black Sox and Rose scandals, Beltran’s involvement is more similar to the Black Sox players because what he did directly affected the outcome of the game.    

Carlos Beltran of the Houston Astros.
Carlos Beltran | Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Beltran’s plans and subsequent implementation of the scheme completely undermined the integrity of the sport. If MLB is to be consistent with how it has handed out discipline for cheating scandals in the past, there is no other option but to permanently ban Beltran from the game. And if MLB is going to be completely transparent, it shouldn’t just stop with Beltran but also punish the Astros players involved just like it did with the Black Sox.